Story of Roshan, Kabul, Afghanistan

At what age did you learn to read and write?

I am Roshan. I started to learn reading and writing when I was 60 years old. When a literate learning centre was established near our house, I and some other ladies from our region went there and found the lessons very educational and useful. My enthusiasm and interest led me to ask permission from my family, after which I was admitted to the course. I am very happy that I learned reading and writing within nine months.

Why did you not learn as a child?

I didn’t learn when I was a child because my father and mother were illiterate and their prejudice blocked me. But now I have the opportunity and I like to study and want to be able to get education until the last day of my life.

What was the most difficult thing about learning as an adult?

I had to undergo lots of difficulties to study and learn because I was so old. I couldn’t link the letters together easily. Fortunately, I have moved beyond all the problems and now I can link the letters, read the words and even write sentences and paragraphs.

Why did you want to learn?

I wished to learn to write and read and to be able to solve problems myself. After a long hard struggle, I attained my hopes and desires. I hope I can help myself and the children and illiterate people in the community so that they can have a brighter future.

What has it meant for you? How has your life changed?

My life has changed a lot through studying and learning. I was an illiterate person who couldn’t even write my own name. But now I can be a good teacher for my children and other illiterates. I can also gain admission to class nine in school. I can find addresses very easily and now I don’t need to ask someone else for directions. I can also read the advertisement boards and signs as well.

What would you like to say to other adults who cannot read and write?

As an Afghan woman and as an elderly woman who was deprived of reading and writing, my message to all those who are illiterate is: Learning doesn’t stop when you are old. As our great Prophet said: Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave. I urge all women who – for whatever reason – are illiterate to continue their learning and to be at the service of their family and community.